Mountain View, CA (December 7, 2006)–The annual Bridge School Benefit has done a world of good over the last two decades, with each concert supporting the unique, non-profit organization that helps individuals with severe speech and physical impairments through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications. This year’s concert once again found major performing artists donating their talents to benefit the school, and SR provider Sound Image provided a sizable Crown-powered JBL VerTec system for the event.
Foo Fighters rock out acoustically at this year’s Bridge School Benefit.Held at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA, the benefit attracted artists such as Neil Young (host and co-founder of the event), Brian Wilson, Trent Reznor, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, and Gillian Welch, as well as Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie and Devendra Banhart. In addition to supporting artists with the sound they wanted, and providing engineers with equipment they could work with on the fly, Sound Image had to address the obstacles presented by the venue itself.
Rob Mailman, general manager, Touring Division for Sound Image noted that, like all venues, Shoreline has its idiosyncrasies. “The tent type of roof that’s there presents unique issues in handling high frequencies, but because we knew the venue, we could make allowances for it being so live. We also knew there were issues with the low end on-stage, so we flew most, but not all, subs, which helped keep the low end off stage.”
The rig was comprised of a 52-box JBL VerTec VT4889 line array and 24 JBL VT4880 2×18 subwoofers, powered with 60 Crown I-tech 8000 amplifiers in use for all bandpasses and four dbx 4800 DriveRacks, which were deployed as system controllers using the Harman HiQnet network protocol interfaced through System Architect software.
HiQnet and System Architect allowed the audio team to fine tune and control the system, adjusting settings on any piece of gear from a single position. “The DSP on board the Crown IT-8000 amps allowed us direct control over the system crossovers, or system filtering, if you will,” Mailman noted. “The System Architect software allows us to directly access the amps remotely, while the dbx 4800 DriveRacks were used for system EQ.” That level of direct control was necessary on a setup that included four different FOH consoles: Digidesign Venue D-Show, DiGiCo D5 Live and Midas Heritage 3000 as well as a Midas XL4 which served as the master drive board. There were also four separate monitor boards–a pair of Heritage 3000s, a Yamaha PM1D and a Yamaha PM5D–specified by the individual artists.
“The biggest challenge with all the digital consoles,” stated Mailman, “was the staffing. With older analog boards, they pretty much work the same and if you get a qualified guy in, he can operate just about any one of them. But with digital, they are very different and you can’t assume that, because they request them, they have somebody who can operate them. We are a full-service company, so we make sure that we have top audio talent to operate these consoles when this kind of request comes up.
“Because of the multiple headliners,” he added, “we had to give them all what they wanted, which we could, of course, do. Then staffing became the biggest challenge because I don’t think there is one single guy in the country who is expert on every single digital console. Putting the staffing and other pieces together back in the office may have been the most difficult thing.”
Fortunately, the show came off without a hitch, providing those in attendance with another sparkling evening of music. For those of us who missed it–and who would like to help support the school’s mission–an archive of the show, and many previous shows in the Benefit series, has been launched for purchase on Apple’s iTunes site. Sifting through the 80-plus tracks available, music fans can get everything from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke covering Young’s “After The Gold Rush” to Billy Idol’s take on Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” Other acts represented include Metallica, Tom Waits, R.E.M., Ryan Adams and Lou Reed.